BMW i5 brings all-electric driving to the 5 series for the first time

The 8th generation BMW 5 series features two new all-electric i5 models and a touring model in the works

BMW 5 series i5 electric car
(Image credit: BMW)

The BMW i5 has been a long expected addition to the company’s electric range and now with the new 8th generation of the 5 series we are treated to two EV models, and more in the works. Alongside the BMW 520i 4-cylinder petrol model with its mild hybrid technology, there is a BMW i5 eDrive40 and a sporty BMW i5 M60 xDrive available. This will be followed in 2024 with two plug-in hybrid models and a BMW 5 series touring range (the estate design) which will also include an i5 electric touring model. 

The new 5 series design is slightly bigger than the previous generation and features a more pronounced nose. With a slanting kidney grill, this almost leans forward giving it a sporty feel, which was apparently inspired by a shark’s nose. There is also a sizable groove down the centre running from the bonnet to the grill. It’s a design that makes this model instantly recognisable and very pleasing to look at. 

Other details on this new model include the four-eye LED headlights at the front and flat L-shaped lights on the rear. The number five is embossed into the surround of the rear window, much like on the iX, and an option for a full panoramic glass roof for the first time. There are also new larger light alloy wheels for both the electric car and the petrol models. 

The aerodynamic design results in a 0.23 CD value, with features such as the air flap control in the front grill and the air curtains adding to the range of the electric models. The i5 eDrive40 promises up to 360 miles of range, while the high performance i5 M60 xDrive offers a more restrained 320 miles. A new ‘Efficient’ MyMode can help to increase your range by up to 25% by limiting the power and top speed. There’s also a Max Range function that limits you to 56mph and turns off all non-vital systems in the event of not being able to recharge. 

BMW 5 series i5 electric car

(Image credit: BMW)

As with the BMW iX M60 version, the i5 M60 sees a massive jump in power and acceleration, giving you 601hp and a 3.8-second 0-62mph, compared with 340hp and 6 seconds on the i5 eDrive40. While the standard i5 is rear-wheel-drive, powered by an electric motor on the rear axle, the i5 M60 includes a second motor on the front axle making it all-wheel drive – split 340hp rear and 261hp front. With the M Sport Boost or Launch Control engaged this set up can deliver up to 820Nm of torque.

Both i5 models use an 81.2kWh battery that can be charged at up to 205kW on a DC fast charger. For home use it has 11kW or 22kW as an option on the i5 (standard on the i5 M60).

Inside the latest 5 series, there’s a new curved display, made up of a 12.3-inch screen behind the steering wheel and a 14.9-inch touchscreen display in the centre – positioned to appear as one continuous wide display. These are running BMW’s latest version 8.5 OS, its last before it switches to an Android powered system for version 9. This is a more graphical OS and comes with YouTube video streaming and in-car gaming using AirConsole.

BMW 5 series i5 electric car

(Image credit: BMW)

The interaction bar that featured on the new 7 series has been included here too, giving you a touch sensitive strip for ventilation and climate controls. There’s a new gear selector stick that continues the rather blingy crystal elements of the dial, and a wireless charging tray in the centre. Audio options include a 12-speaker Harman Kardon system as standard or the particularly impressive Bowers & Wilkins seven channel, 18 speaker system as an upgrade.

In terms of driving technology, the 5 series features an enhanced Level 2 autonomy. This comes in the form of BMW’s Driving Assistant Professional, which includes distance control, steering and lane control. It also features a new lane change assistant to carry out lane changes at up to 85 mph. To confirm a lane change suggested by the car, you simply look at the wing mirror in the direction you are going and the car will do the rest. This is only available in Germany, USA and Canada right now, though hopefully it will come to the UK in time.

The BMW 5 series range will be available from October 2023. The 520i petrol model starts from £49,850, while the BMW i5 electric starts from £73,200. The BMW i5 M60 starts from £96,840.

Mat Gallagher

As T3's Editor-in-Chief, Mat Gallagher has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. He has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing, Hong Kong and Chicago is now based in the UK. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, Apple, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.